Moon calls for 'heartfelt' Japan apology for WWII sex…

Japan PM heads to Europe amid N. Korea tensions

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday rejected South Korea's calls for a honest apology to the "comfort women" who were forcibly conscripted to work in wartime military brothels, despite evident flaws in a bilateral deal.

Abe will then visit fellow Baltic states Latvia and Lithuania, before continuing on to Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania. The tour will bring to a record 76 the number of countries and regions he has visited during his second stint in office, begun in 2012. Tokyo is looking to learn from Estonia, which was hit by a large-scale cyberattack in 2007. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation maintains a cyberdefense base there today.

Global relations professor Kim Jae Chun of Sogang University warned that the difference in opinion over the comfort women deal could pose a major roadblock for Korea-Japan relations. It said it would consult with Japan on what to do with the funds already given by the country.

Another goal is advancing public-private linkups in the cyber realm.

Abe also met with Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid over discussions on EU-Japan relations and bilateral trade, accompanied by a business delegation with several dozen representatives from Japanese companies. They have agreed to step up pressure on North Korea over its nuclear and missile development program.

Abe is expected to address the North Korea issue in more detail when he visits Bulgaria, which took over the European Union's rotating presidency from Estonia on January 1.

Romania and its cheap labor have caught the eye of a number of Japanese businesses envisioning new manufacturing bases.

POLITICAL SCIENTIST TOSH MINOHARA of Kobe University, on Mr Moon Jae In's comments on Wednesday that he seeks "forward-oriented ties" with Japan. He works to engage more with small and medium-sized countries with which Japan has not conducted much top-level diplomacy before.

Seoul, while maintaining it will not seek to renegotiate the deal, said it will plan to match the 1 billion yen ($8.98 million) paid by the Japanese government under the deal, with South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha saying that it will decide how to use Japan's contribution.

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